Russian spy arrested at Gatwick Airport

A Russian citizen has been arrested on suspicion of spying as he tried to board a flight leaving the UK.Russian 'spy' arrested at Gatwick airport

The man in his 40s was detained by counter-terrorism police at Gatwick Airport, accused of breaking the Official Secrets Act. He was taken to a police station in west London for questioning after being arrested on Monday.

The arrest is understood to have followed a joint-intelligence led operation by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism police and the British intelligence services. 

Under the official secrets Act, authorities can hold the suspect for up to 96 hours before either charging or releasing him.

Intelligence officers have repeatedly complained that the Official Secrets Act is out of date and successful prosecutions are rare. 

Britain largely dismantled the Kremlin’s espionage operation in the UK after expelling diplomats following the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018 using nerve agent.

It is not thought the suspected Russian spy detained this week posed an imminent threat to UK national security. But his detention will further ratchet up tensions between London and Moscow. 

It is understood that police were aware that the man was attempting to leave the UK and waited for him at the airport. 

There are currently no direct flights between the UK and Russia following the invasion of Ukraine and it is unclear where the suspect was travelling to.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We can confirm that officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command arrested a man in his 40s at Gatwick Airport on Monday 13 June on suspicion of offences under Section One of the Official Secrets Act 1911.

“He has been taken to a London police station, where he currently remains in police custody.

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